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What’s in a name? Service dispatcher or resource manager

31 Jul, 2006 By: Jack Duncan imageSource

What’s in a name? Service dispatcher or resource manager

Today’s technical service department often has a dispatcher when actually,
what is really needed, is perhaps a resource manager where the technicians are
their resources, even best described as a field service coordinator. These
people have a huge opportunity to impact the productivity of the department as
well as increase response times and customer satisfaction.


differences between a dispatcher and a resource manager can be far reaching. The
dispatcher simply takes service calls and then closes them out after the
technician completes them. As we make the shift from dispatcher to resource
manager, we still have a person who opens and closes service calls but has added
a few additional duties that will allow the person to become a full service
provider. A resource manager will be the first line alert when a customer begins
to have issues; the person who actively monitors all open service requests to
make sure that they are addressed in a timely manner; the person who makes sure
that a service technician has time left in his day to return to complete calls
he still has open for parts or other issues; and one who balances each service
technician’s workload to ensure that one person isn’t getting buried while
others haven’t enough to do. Tough job? You bet! Service dispatchers and
resource managers may well be one of the biggest unsung heroes of our industry.


As we look at the differences we still see a person who takes and completes the
administrative side of service calls, but how can we impact other areas of

Customers - Let’s look first at customer satisfaction. Since the
person who talks to the customer taking the call is the first person to notice
things like recalls, excess service calls, or just plain unhappiness, they can
also be the person who alerts management of these issues. Resource managers are
indeed our “Early Warning System.”

Productivity - By using tools such as MS MapPoint, Aged Service Call
screens and others, a resource manager can ensure that service calls are
assigned to the closest available technician qualified to work on the equipment.
This will lower travel time and increase available customer time, which in turn
raises productivity and lowers travel expenses. With the ever increasing cost of
fuel these days, can we really afford to travel far for service calls? Positive
impact here

can be huge.

Coordination - While service technicians should be well aware of their
calls and their commitments to get them completed, a resource manager should be
aware of the “Big Picture” we all know as the field. A tech can call a resource
manager and tell them he needs two extra hours to do a late call, or that he is
getting caught up and could help a coworker in need. Squeezing in installations
or that extra hot emergency call is all part of the game for a Field Service

Maintaining a balanced workload among technicians can aid in lowering
response times as well as ensuring that technicians are able to complete prior
call assignments due to reschedules, etc. If we go to the time and trouble of
bringing in a part overnight, but the technician does not have the time to go
put it in, we wasted our efforts and freight expenses as well as lowered our
customer’s satisfaction. A coordinator can carve a hole in their day to complete
this call while not losing track of emergency calls and their response times.

Preparation - Our resource managers should employ tools such as old
fashioned printed lists made at least twice daily for open calls, redundant
systems, back door phone lines, etc., in order to be prepared for a crisis such
as a server crash, power loss or other disaster. Your customers do not care that
your computer is down, they care that their equipment is down. Develop plans and
strategies for such disasters. If you are prepared they probably won’t happen,
but if you aren’t, I’m betting they will.

Workload - The average resource manager can support about ten
technicians in addition to taking inbound service calls. Leveraging technology
can increase this number to twenty or more and allow them to additionally take
supply requests under certain circumstances. At all costs, ensure that resource
managers have enough time to not rush a customer off the phone. Nothing leaves a
bad taste in an already unhappy customer’s mouth than being rushed off the

Personality - Stop and think about it, your resource manager must
exhibit the unique quality of being able to “take a licking and still keep on
ticking.” Practically everyone who calls them is upset because something does
not work. When was the last time someone called your service department to say
that nothing was wrong? Resource managers must reassure the customer with a
smile in their voice that they will handle it and that all will be well soon.
Complaints must roll off like the proverbial water from a duck’s back. These
traits can be hard to find.

Effectiveness - How can we gauge the effectiveness of our resource
managers? Simple, check customer satisfaction surveys; look for reductions in
travel time and average miles per service call and response times; increases in
technicians’ customer (productive) hours per day. These are all signs that a
resource manager is at work.

the transition from a dispatcher to a resource manager can pay big dividends in
customer satisfaction, productivity, and lowered travel time and expenses. This
often underappreciated role can make a big impact on your coworkers by helping
balance workloads and just generally helping coordinate all of what’s going on
in a service department. Don’t forget that when a resource manager reassures
customers with a smile in their voice first when placing calls, this often makes
life easier for the technician who later comes face-to-face with that same
customer. While not everyone can do this job, the resource manager can go a long
way towards making life easier for everyone – your company, your suppliers, and
your customers.

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